Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hamlet, Prince of Denmar Essay

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare, tells the morbid tale of a young man’s quest for revenge. Set in Denmark during the Middle Ages, the play chronicles the assassination of a king and his brother’s usurpation of the throne and insinuation into the king’s old life, to the point of marrying the king’s own widow. Hamlet, the young prince, is charged by his dead father’s ghost to bring his uncle to justice and restore the rightful crown. When Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle, comes to the realization that his young nephew has uncovered his murderous conspiracy, he resolves to assassinate the young prince as well. However, when his attempt to have Hamlet executed in England is foiled, he must find another means to surreptitiously remove the threat to his kingship. After Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius, Claudius’ chief counselor, Polonius’ son is filled with rage, resulting in Claudius concocting a plan to match Hamlet against Polonius’ son, Laertes, in a duel to the death. II. THEME The theme primarily seen throughout the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is one of dilemma and indecision. This theme is reiterated often in the play, habitually in situations surrounding young Hamlet himself, due to his immaturity and inexperience. This is demonstrated as early as the opening of the play, in which Old Hamlet’s ghost appears to Hamlet. Hamlet’s difficulty in determining the difference between appearance and reality causes him to question whether the ghost is really a good spirit, or a devil trying to trick him. † Angels and ministers of grace defend us! — / Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d, / Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, / Be thy intents wicked or charitable, / Thou com’st in such a questionable shape† (Ham. I. iv.623-627). This theme can also be seen in Act III, Scene iii, in which Hamlet is debating on whether to truly kill Claudius or to spare his life. Hamlet is at the point of deliberation as he sees his uncle kneeling in prayer and remorse, and thus, vulnerable. â€Å"Now might I do it pat, now he is praying; / And now I’ll do’t;–and so he goes to heaven; / And so am I reveng’d. –that would be scann’d:† (Ham. III. iii. 2350-2353). However, at that very moment, Hamlet wavers and begins to have misgivings about doing the actual deed. â€Å"But in our circumstance and course of thought,/ ‘Tis heavy with him: and am I, then, reveng’d, / To take him in the purging of his soul, / When he is fit and season’d for his passage? / No† (Ham. III. iii. 2360-2363). Another example of this theme is seen during one of Hamlet’s darkest hours, in which he is disenchanted with life since his father’s death, as well as disgusted with is mother’s hasty marriage to Claudius. To Hamlet, these momentous events have degraded the Danish court. Hamlet’s strongest impulse to kill himself to avoid debasement, and yet, he fears the damning consequences of suicide. â€Å"To be, or not to be,–that is the question:– / Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them? –To die,–to sleep† (Ham. III. i. 1710-1714). A minor theme in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is remorse. In Act III, Scene iii, Claudius reveals his profound guilt about his crime, and states that he will never be able to seek God’s forgiveness for it. â€Å"My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer / Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder! — / That cannot be; since I am still possess’d / Of those effects for which I did the murder,† (Ham. III. iii. 2327-2330). This minor theme can also be noted when Hamlet regrets not telling Ophelia that he really did love her when he stumbles upon her funeral in Act V, Scene i. Earlier, he had insulted and rejected Ophelia during one of his bouts of madness. â€Å"I lov’d Ophelia; forty thousand brothers / Could not, with all their quantity of love, / Make up my sum. –What wilt thou do for her? † (Ham. V. i.3466-3468). III. DICTION In the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare utilizes an assortment of vivid images to describe certain objects. This enables the reader to form a clear mental picture of what is happening in each scene and of what had happened in the past. †¦ in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kiss’d I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen? Now, get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come; make her laugh at that (Ham. V. i. 3375-3381). Shakespeare also makes good use of idialect in the play, which is particularly seen in Hamlet’s involvement with the gravediggers. â€Å"A pickaxe and a spade, a spade / For and a shrouding sheet; / O, a pit of clay for to be made / For such a guest is meet† (Ham. V. i. 3283-3286). These terms are expressions that are commonly used in the mortuatory business. Due to the fact that the play was written centuries ago, the language of the play contains a large amount of poetic diction, with antiquated pronouns as well as inverted sentence order, such as seen in â€Å"‘Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco. / For this relief much thanks: ’tis bitter cold, / And I am sick at heart† (Ham. I. i. 11-13). Precise, exact meanings are used when describing scenes, as well. This is clearly seen in Act III, Scene ii in which the actors are reenacting Old Hamlet’s poisoning by Claudius. â€Å"Neptune’s salt wash and Tellus’ orbed ground, / And thirty dozen moons with borrow’d sheen / About the world have times twelve thirties been, / Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands, / Unite commutual in most sacred bands† (Ham. III. ii. 2023-2027). The use of diction greatly contributes to the subject and theme of the play, as well. The use of vivid images, as well as precise, exact meanings enable the reader to visualize the action that is taking place in each scene as well as understand the relationships that are occurring in the play. The inverted word order and use of antiquated pronouns help the reader picture a forbidding time period as well as visualize the conspiracies hatching around Denmark. Why, let the strucken deer go weep, The hart ungalled play; For some must watch, while some must sleep: So runs the world away. – Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers–if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me,–with two Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir? (Ham. III. ii. 2142- 2150). IV. TONE The major tone of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is ominous. With the play opening in the dead of night at the walls of Elsinore Castle, the reader can immediately sense the gloom, uncertainty, and anxiety that hangs over the kingdom of Denmark. It seems that everyone is aware of the terrible evil that surrounds the monarchy, particularly all of the circumstances that led to Claudius’s coronation. The threatening possibility of further evil to descend upon the kingdom is unconsciously on the minds of every character within the play. Minor tones can be sensed throughout the story during certain areas. A feeling of morbidity can be felt while looking at specific sections of the story. This gruesome feeling is often felt in association with the scenes involving death, such as the graveyard scene in which the gravediggers are chuckling and singing as they dig Ophelia’s grave. Irony is also another minor tone that can be found in several areas of the play. Hamlet truly loved Ophelia, and, by a twist of fate, he also caused her death in a roundabout way, in the murder of Polonius, whose death so depressed Ophelia that it lead her to insanity, and ultimately suicide. Irony is also especially evident in Claudius’ death, in which he was forced to die in the same manner that he had planned for Hamlet. V. SYMBOLISM Different symbols represent different universal meanings in life and in the story. The most obvious symbol in the play is the poison that is used by Claudius in the murder of Old Hamlet. Poison is also used on the tip of Laertes’ sword and in Claudius’ drink in another attempt to assassinate Hamlet. This poison could also be seen as a symbol of the death and corruption spreading throughout Denmark as a direct result of Claudius’ rule. Another symbol seen in the play is the murder of Old Hamlet by his own brother, Claudius. The death of Old Hamlet by Claudius traces back to the time of the first murder between brothers, and shows a religious parallelism in going back to the story of Cain and Abel. Flowers are common enough in the play, but daisies hold a special meaning as well. Ophelia’s ‘mad scene’ is a scene which is full of flowers. In particular, however, she gives a daisy to Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, which symbolizes faithlessness, in reference to Gertrude’s marriage to Claudius less than two months after her first husband’s death. Upon his suspicion of Claudius’ involvement in Old Hamlet’s death, Hamlet is struck with the inspiration to have actors reenact the death of his father in order to observe Claudius’ reaction. When the moment of his father’s murder is in the theater, Claudius is compelled to leave the room, and the play that the actors perform is symbolic of the guilt that Claudius feels. Perhaps the most famous of all symbols in the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is the skull of the king’s former jester, Yorick. Hamlet holds a few sentimental memories of the jester, who used to give him piggyback rides and play with him. Yorick’s death gives Hamlet an opportunity to contemplate human mortality, as well as remind him that life is not all pessimistic and glum and that there was a happier time in his life. VI. SPEAKER In Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, the speaker is in the third person. The author, William Shakespeare, is unnamed and uninvolved. The speaker does not have an active role within the story, yet is omniscient of everything that is occurring within the context of the play. VII. STRUCTURE Within Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Shakespeare uses chronological order. The play begins with Hamlet discovering that the ghost of his father has been spotted wandering Elsinore castle, and ends with Hamlet avenging Claudius for the death of his father as well as his own death. Although references are made to events that have occurred in the past, such as the murder of Old Hamlet, these events are revealed as the past. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, written by William Shakespeare, is a paperback book consisting of 342 pages. The front cover depicts a man in the foreground, presumably Hamlet, with the image of a lady in the background, presumably Ophelia. The play consists of five acts, with as little as two scenes and as many as seven scenes within an act. VIII. Imagery William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark includes a wide variety of figurative language that helps the reader visualize the story and to guide in the understanding of the plot and the characters. Similes are used frequently throughout the play; the author uses similes often in describing objects around the scene, such as, â€Å"By the mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed† (Ham. III. ii. 2249). Irony of situation is also used in the story. For example, throughout the last half of the play, the reader is aware of Claudius’ plot to assassinate Hamlet by planting poison inside a goblet of wine, and assumes that Hamlet will be poisoned and die. However, in reality it is Claudius and Gertrude who drink the poison instead â€Å"No, no! the drink, the drink! –O my dear Hamlet! — / The drink, the drink! –I am poison’d †¦ Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane, / Drink off this potion. –Is thy union here? / Follow my mother† (Ham. V. ii.3788-3810). Alliteration is also used in the play by Hamlet. For instance, he refers to his â€Å"long life† (Ham. III. i. 69). and a â€Å"bare bodkin† (Ham. III. i. 76). An obvious and famous antithesis that can also be found in the play is the line, â€Å"to be or not to be† (Ham. III. i. 58), in which two opposites are juxtaposed next to each other for a dramatic effect. Metaphors were also used to imply comparisons between certain objects. This is clearly demonstrated in Act I, Scene ii during Hamlet’s soliloquy where he is comparing his own flesh to melting ice. â€Å"O that this too too solid flesh would melt, / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! † (Ham. I. ii. 312). The play also includes several soliloquies by Hamlet in which he is conversing with no one in particular save himself or the audience. During one long monologue, he is agitated and visibly upset over his mother’s marriage to Claudius and addresses the heavens â€Å"Like Niobe, all tears;–why she, even she,– / O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason, / Would have mourn’d longer,–married with mine uncle† (Ham. I. ii. 333-335). To help the reader understand certain situations and see circumstances from his point of view, Hamlet described certain objects with human characteristics, such as in â€Å"She married:– O, most wicked speed, to post / With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! † (Ham. I. ii. 340-341). Hyperbole is the use of figurative language that greatly exaggerates facts; for example, at Ophelia’s burial, Hamlet and Laertes are arguing and Hamlet calls for â€Å"millions of acres† (Ham. V. i. 3478) of earth to be piled onto all three of them. The phrase â€Å"Tis an unweeded garden,† (Ham. I. ii. 19). is the beginning of a conceit that extends throughout the book. Shakespeare is comparing Denmark to Eden, relying on the theme of corruption and how it spreads from the head monarch of Denmark (Claudius) throughout the entire court. IX. Genre The Handbook to Literature states that a revenge tragedy is a â€Å"form of tragedy made popular on the Elizabethan stage †¦ largely Senecan in its inspiration and technique. The theme is the revenge of a father for a son or vice versa, the revenge being directed by the ghost of the murdered man†¦ (440). The play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark perfectly fits this description in that Hamlet literally is the son that is directed by the ghost of his father, Old Hamlet, to avenge his death and bring Claudius to justice. Hamlet seeks revenge for the death of his father, which leads to much bloodshed and violence later in the play. According to The Handbook to Literature, a Senecan tragedy †¦ combined native English tragic tradition with a modified Senecan technique and led directly toward the typical Elizabethan tragedy†¦ though reflecting nsuch Senecan traits such as sensationalism, bombast, and the use of the chorus and the ghost, departed from the Senecan method in placing the murders and horrors on the state, in response to popular Elizabethan taste†¦ (472). This genre is also greatly accentuated in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, particularly towards the climax of the play during the duel between Hamlet and Laertes, in Act V, Scene ii, which leads to the dramatic, and somewhat sensationalized, deaths of Hamlet, Claudius, Laertes, and Gertrude onstage. X. Metrics Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a play that primarily uses blank verse. The Handbook to Literature defines blank verse as â€Å"unrhymed but otherwise regular verse, usually iambic pentameter† (62). The four lines below are spoken by Hamlet as be deliberates on whether to commit suicide or not. To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, (Ham. III. i. 1710-1714). These lines are written in iambic pentameter, although each of these lines contain an extra unstressed syllable at the end of each line. The majority of the play uses blank verse. However, there are certain areas in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark that employ prose in order to show intense feeling, as demonstrated in Act II, Scene ii. â€Å"†¦ l tell you why; so shall my anticipation / prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and / queen moult no feather I have of late,–but wherefore / I know not,–lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises† (Ham. II. ii. 1340-1343). Prose is also commonly used for expressing madness.

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